★★★★ Directed by: Chris Esper Written by: Chris Esper Starring: Tom Mariano, Brendan Meehan, Sheetal Kelkar, Jamie Braddy, William DeCoff, Adam Masnyk, Gina Petronella, Madeline B. Smith, Vac Harris, Omari Riley, Paul Kandarian, Grady Oberton, Lakia Norwood, Quitman McBride, Mackenzie Sarkisian, Gabriella Lentini, Annora Takeuchi, Ava Ingalls Short Film Review by: Chris Olson
Baggage. It's both a psychological encumbrance and a physical annoyance (especially when travelling). Short film Imposter, written and directed by Chris Esper, takes a literal approach to representing the baggage we all bring with us, in this case embodied by our younger selves acting as a relentless passenger on our journey through life.
Inside a coach sit numerous people from all walks of life. There's a businessman (Tom Mariano) who we see at the beginning of the movie going through a particularly difficult meeting. There's also an artist (Sheetal Kelkar), a veteran (William DeCoff), a drag queen (Lakia Norwood), a baseball player (Vac Harris) and more. The only thing this seemingly random selection of humanity has in common is that they are all sitting next to (or near) a younger version of themselves. And before you start to think that these are helpful and useful sidekicks like those little Daemon animals in The Golden Compass, think again. These younger characters serve as a brutal reminder of what could have been, shadowing every step their older counterparts make with their forlorn looks of judgement.
Filmmaker Chris Esper delivers a bold and compelling short using a heavy dose of poignant storytelling that is surrounded with thematic breadth. The characters are well thought out without becoming too cartoonish; the use of minimal dialogue is a clever technique to emphasise the emotional drain that each has with its former self. This is then encased by an emotive sound design that allows the audience to sink into the drama and percolate its numerous themes.
The performances are great across the board, all seem to be well aligned to the filmmaker's vision. DeCoff was particularly memorable as the PTSD afflicted veteran whose younger self becomes the catalyst for the film’s biggest moment. Watching him struggle with his inner demons and being tortured by his “new recruit” self was thoroughly engaging and tragic.
There is so much to reflect on after watching Imposter. By exploring the themes using a more physical approach, Esper lets numerous ideas and topics intertwine brilliantly. Identities being a prominent theme, it was spectacular to see this on screen without copious amounts of exposition. Instead, the viewer is allowed to connect with all the stories on screen and identify with any and all that they find compelling. The climax of the film then delivers a wonderful moment of honest closure.
Smart, engaging, and thoughtful storytelling with a masterful approach to its mise en scéne, Imposter is likely to get you inside your head and keep you there against your will.
Watch the official movie trailer below...